In the second half of last year we saw the major US airlines begin selling tickets for flights to Cuba. It’s no surprise that so many US carriers requested rights to operate routes to Cuba, given that it’s the first time in decades that such flights are possible. I took advantage of that opportunity, and visited Havana in December. I had an… interesting time. I’m happy to have seen Havana, but don’t need to return anytime soon.
From day one I suggested that airlines were being overzealous in terms of the number of routes they intended to operate to Cuba. There was an extensive bidding process for flights to/from Havana, so it seems like many airlines were focused on keeping Cuba out of the hands of their competitors, rather than approaching capacity rationally.
Since these routes were started, we’ve seen constant capacity cuts to Cuba. Some airlines have canceled flights to Cuba altogether, while others have reduced frequencies and downgraded planes.
If there’s one US airline that’s best positioned to serve Cuba it’s American, given their Miami hub. Miami is just a short distance from Cuba, not to mention they’ve cornered the Caribbean market for so long. So while I’m highly skeptical of the long term viability of Alaska’s flight from Los Angeles to Havana, I have no doubt American will continue to fly between Miami and Havana, at a minimum.
So while we’ve seen American reduce frequencies on flights to Cuba before, for the first time American is pulling out of a Cuban destination altogether. American will discontinue their daily 252-mile flight between Miami and Cienfuegos as of January 7, 2018. Presently American operates an Embraer 175 once daily in the market with the following schedule:
AA4573 Miami to Cienfuegos departing 3:55PM arriving 5:10PM
AA4574 Cienfuegos to Miami departing 6:00PM arriving 7:15PM
Earlier this year American downgraded the route from an A319 to an Embraer 175, and now they’re cutting it altogether.
After this change, American’s destinations in Cuba will include Camaguey, Havana, Holguin, Santa Clara, and Varadero.
It’s pretty telling when American can’t make a once a day, 250 mile flight to Cuba work.
I’ll be curious to see which Cuba route American cuts next.
Are you surprised to see American cut service to a Cuban destination altogether?